41st Toronto International Film Festival Coverage: Day Eight

September 15th, 2016 by Ian Evans

I headed downtown early to screen Rob Reiner’s LBJ, which follows Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson (Woody Harrelson) who first finds himself looked down upon by some in the Kennedy administration until the dramatic events in Dallas thrusts both the presidency and the civil rights bills onto his shoulders. Harrelson shines as the rough-hewn natural politician, who knows how to horse trade to get what he wants done. Jennifer Jason Leigh co-stars as Lady Bird, who helps smooth LBJ’s rough edges and supports him unequivocally. No release date has been set yet.

The Secret Scripture was the first gala of the night at Roy Thomson Hall. Directed by James Sheridan, and based on Sebastian Barry’s 2008 novel, it stars Vanessa Redgrave as Roseanne McNulty, who lives in a mental institution that is set to be demolished. When a psychiatrist (Eric Bana) assesses her, we see her as a young woman (Rooney Mara) and follow the events that unfold to place her in an institution. Both women who play Roseanne walked the red carpet.

Up next was the gala for the biopic LBJ, where star Woody Harrelson posed for photos with his director and co-stars but breezed past the media assembled to ask questions.

The VISA Screening Room first played host to the premiere of The Exception. Directed by David Leveaux, and adapted from Alan Judd’s novel The Kaiser’s Last Kiss, it stars Canadian legend Christopher Plummer as German Kaiser Wilhelm II and follows his post-WWI exile in the Netherlands with his wife (Janet McTeer). When World War II gets underway, the former emperor finds himself under the supervision of an SS captain (Jai Courtney) as he dreams about a possible return to Germany.

Werner Herzog’s Salt and Fire was next on the carpet. Described as an “ecological thriller”, it stars Michael Shannon as a rogue businessman responsible for an ecological disaster who kidnaps a UN scientist (Veronica Ferres) and her team as they investigate it. When a nearby volcano threatens to explode with a devastating impact on the planet, the adversaries must unite.

Over at Ryerson, fans were once again entranced by the young Canadian actor Jacob Tremblay, whom everyone fell in love with in last year’s Room. Tremblay was there to support Burn Your Maps, the Jordan Roberts film about a young boy who, convinced that he is actually a Mongolian goat herder, leads his parents (Vera Farmiga and Marton Csokas) on a journey there after a family crisis. At an earlier press conference, Roberts stressed that small films need the same attention as the big blockbusters we’re inundated with, saying that, “They deserve to exist because they are essential. I told this story because I absolutely had to tell it. Everyone who got involved had to tell this story. We are at a time when human stories are few and far between.”